New Cabinet reflects leader who puts country before party

Masimba Mavaza Correspondent
Cabinet choices are critical to the success or failure of any government. The government should operate for the people by the people.

In many ways, the new team that started duty for Zimbabwe satisfies this important proviso.

There are remarkable issues also such as inclusiveness and resting of familiar faces that have been redeployed to the party.

Resting of the old folk from Cabinet does not reflect an end of the road.

The Cabinet is noticeably free of the majority of the old guard who have dominated Government for the past three decades.

Most ministers have never known any job except being ministers since 1980.

People like Dr Obert Mpofu, Patrick Chinamasa, Simon Khaya Moyo, Josaya Hungwe and Dr David Parirenyatwa have all been redeployed, together with Simbarashe Mubengegwi and Chris Mutsvangwa.

It will be noted that for most of them, this will be their first time out of Government in more than two decades.

It is hoped that they will put the interest of their country above personal prestige.

In order to attract investors, the Government had to change its front line by bringing in some new blood.

The highlight of the Cabinet, which has been praised by many, is the inclusion of at least two new technocrats of high repute.

The first of these is Professor Mthuli Ncube, an economist who has held distinguished posts at institutions such as Oxford University and the African Development Bank.

He has advised finance ministers in many countries on policy issues and has a wealth of knowledge and experience in the field of economics.

He brings great weight to the office. His appointment is a refreshing glass of cold water in the desert.

In the mid-2000s, Prof Ncube tried his hand at banking in Zimbabwe through an institution called Barbican Bank, which eventually closed down.

Critics will no doubt raise questions over this dark patch.

This was caused by an aggressive central bank which had running battles with mostly indigenous-owned banks.

Nevertheless, Prof Ncube bounced back and re-built a successful international career.

While his skills and experience make him a suitable candidate, Prof Ncube was an attractive choice for Zimbabwe because he represents a larger message to the world.

This is Mnangagwa showing his pragmatic side – embracing a distinguished professional on merit rather than party affiliation and deploying him to perform a specialised function.

This can also be seen in the appointment of Ms Kirsty Coventry and Dr Obadiah Moyo.

We hope that colleagues in high places in the complex world of finance and business will come to the aid of Prof Ncube.

We hope that he will be listened to and his word taken seriously.

However, much will depend on the latitude that the President is willing to give him.

Prof Ncube is the playmaker, who must control the game and make sure the entire team delivers.

Past Finance ministers have failed to achieve their objectives not because they were bad, but because there was undue political interference and toxic policies based on populism.

If only for this time politics leaves economy to thrive.

Prof Ncube

The younger generation missed the knowledge and older memories may have forgotten, but there have been accomplished technocrats in this post before.

There was Dr Bernard Chidzero, who was recruited from Canada as a technocrat in the 1980s and Dr Ariston Chambati, who was a renowned corporate executive.

They both had to navigate a rough political terrain in which populism stood in the way of economic prudence.

The new Cabinet should be given a chance to shine.

The other surprise name is Kirsty Coventry, Zimbabwe’s most decorated Olympic champion.

There is much to commend in this appointment.

She is a young woman who has represented her country at the highest level.

She is a winner, a quality that is essential to any team. She appeals to a broad demographic group and her appointment represents the country’s racial diversity.

She understands sport.

The appointment of a person with a sporting background and also international experience was long overdue.

Sport has great potential, but it has been grossly mismanaged. She has a big job cleaning up the mess in various areas including cricket, football, rugby, tennis and athletics.

The President has retained Ministers of State in the 10 provinces.

This is proper as it is designed to implement the devolution model provided for in the Constitution.

Chikomba MP, Sekai Nzenza, is one of the new faces in Government where she becomes Public Service Minister.

The real problem for this Cabinet, as with others before it, is the thin line between the party and the State.

The Politburo, which is ZANU-PF’s own “cabinet”, is a critical player in policy-making.

Technocrats in Government who are not also in the party’s decision-making bodies might find themselves in a difficult situation, especially when important decisions are directed from the party.

That said, the President has rid himself of some old faces and brought in new talent.

The Cabinet represents a serious leader who has put the country before the party. A leader who works to the best interests of the State.

The world looks with awe and Zimbabwe awaits anxiously for a change which must put us up between a hill and cloud.

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